Glory to Jesus Christ! Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Tuesday 21 June 2022.
Ukraine is already experiencing 118 days of full-scale aggression—a war that Russia is waging against the Ukrainian people. We thank the Lord God and the Armed Forces of Ukraine that we have survived to this morning and see the light of day. This night, as well as yesterday, was very restless in Ukraine. Many people died again, many of our servicemen gave their lives for their homeland. The fiercest fighting is taking place in the Ukrainian Luhansk region, around the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. According to the reports we heard this morning, the enemy is advancing there and concentrating a large military force.
In the same way, large cities of our homeland, in different parts of our country, were again under fire. We especially pray and mourn for Ukrainian Kharkiv, where, in fact in these days there was an increase in shelling, tensions are growing and the enemy is trying to prevent the Ukrainian army from reaching the state border of Ukraine. Active battles are being fought in the south of our homeland, and this morning, while people were just waking up, Russian missiles struck this peaceful city again.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is defending its dignity. She defends her independence, as it once was, in the days of ancient Kyivan Rus’. Ukraine shields Europe with the power of its spirit and its weapons. It shields European values from contempt, from the invasion’s destruction, which today again brings death and destruction to our land.
Today I would like to begin with you a series of reflections on the fruits of the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, we contemplated the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for seven days. Gifts that the Spirit will bring or has brought to the human person. But every gift must be accepted. The Lord God does not want to force anything upon us. Every gift in order for it to become a reality in our soul, in our person, in our life, must be accepted and cooperated with. For this gift is like a seed that must take root, grow, and bear fruit. If a person does not work, if a person does not accept, does not pay attention to these gifts, they can easily be lost. And sometimes we are like leaky sacks into which the Lord God pours out His grace, and we constantly lose it. But when a person receives these gifts of the Spirit, when co-operating with divine grace, then they grow and mature.
And so, the fruits of the Holy Spirit are signs of such spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. The holy Apostle Paul enumerates nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. And in his Epistle to the Galatians he writes to us: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Those fruits of the Holy Spirit are the result of Divine grace, but also come about through the cooperation of the human person and our spiritual maturity.
Let us reflect today on the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is love. We have heard a lot about love. We have already mentioned this reality in our reflections, we talk about love as a virtue that should be distinguished from the feeling of love. The virtue of love is the pinnacle of human perfection. And what is the meaning of love as the fruit of the Holy Spirit? This is where another aspect of true and sincere love opens up. Love in its fullness leads to union with the one you love. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of love, gives us the opportunity to live in God and to be united with God. To unite with the One we love, to unite with the One Who loved us. Because our God is love, the evangelist John tells us, and “he that is in love abides in God.” We need to learn to love. But only the Creator Himself can fulfill this love through this union with man. He is the One Who comes to us. Christ says, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
Today I want to wish all of us, I want to pray with you that we, even in the midst of war— which is a space and a time of deadly onslaught—that we are be able to unite with God in love. That by keeping His will, His commandments, we may invite Him into our lives. Because when we already feel here that we are united with God, we already get a foretaste of our eternal happiness here. And then no external circumstances can change or steal from us what we already have in our hearts.
God loves Ukraine. God loves us all. God wants to come to us and end with us. That is why we sing to Him this ancient church hymn: “Lord of hosts, be with us, for we have no helper but You in tribulations. Lord of hosts, have mercy on us.”
O God, bless Ukraine and her children! May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love of humankind, always, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!